Maybe the shot is in my Facebook stream. The image in my mind’s eye right now might be a print lost somewhere in the boxes and boxes of prints created before photography all went digital.
What you see as you look at the picture is a view from the second floor of a house in Sea Isle City, NJ. It was taken in full sun. The snap does not look toward the ocean but in the opposite direction toward the bay. Looking out over the brackish water to the west you see the posts and other artifacts humankind has abandoned in the marsh. You also can see the mainland. The lower third of the image is of the railing of the elevated porch from which it was taken. The railing is a beautiful rainbow of greens, pinks, yellows and a couple of other shades I don’t remember at the moment. These are beach colors, aqua green and flamingo pink but dusty and lightly faded. The view from that particular spot is my heaven.
Sounds odd doesn’t it, a sliver of a second story porch with just enough room for a few chairs, a birdfeeder and a tabletop fountain facing north as nirvana. Who would think of their beautiful reward as sideways vista of a salt marsh? How could that be anyone’s heaven? Well it isn’t anyone’s heaven, it is my heaven.
This space was created by the love of two very special people, people who have been my friends (and one of them a relative for a short while) for more than 2/3rds of the life I have lived so far. Partly these people, with their sense of balance in life, in time and in nature, make that particular view my heaven. Partly the marsh to the left and the ocean to the right make this my heaven.
The unending life force of the sea meets the cauldron of life on land, the salt marsh. Partly, this is heaven because of the spirit of joyful life that is found at a seaside resort like this during the hot days of August. Heaven, my heaven. I don’t know if sitting in a chair listening to the gulls call and feeling a sea breeze is your heaven but I am okay with any differences we may have on this point.
Often in these current days, which I find very dark and troubling, I go to that deck in my mind and just watch the circling seagulls. I shut my eyes and shut down this world of spiritual pain. I listen internally to the sound track of a life time. Words of my parents flow by just as readily as do the tunes of Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell. I find myself rereading mentally the pages of books that have impacted me. I dive deep into the constructs I have brought into my heart and mind over the years.
I think I can tell you why the current situation hurts so much. The control of our lives is held in the hands of men mostly whose values are totally opposite of what I have believed, worked for and voted for all my life. The only choice I have when I leave the reverie is to live and act and speak according to the values I have always clung to not worry about what the rest of my fellow citizens do.
Yeah if I am on that deck I am mentally younger and fitter. If I am on that deck I am surrounded by love. If I am on that deck I might even be high. Haven’t done that in 25 years but when it becomes legal, and it will become legal fuck you Jeff Sessions and your frightened old white man ways, I might partake again. When I am on that deck I am at peace, quiet, gentle peace.
There is a poet I urge everyone to read. His name is W.S. Merwin. His poetry comes at you head on and then sideways. When I am mentally taking refuge on that seaside second floor deck I have a copy of Moon Before Morning next to me on the table. I have a large assed Wawa coffee with lots of cream. A cigarette is burning in the ashtray (remember this is a mental moment) and I am reading aloud to whoever will listen the following poem entitled Ancient World.
In the deep shell of summer
A long silence reaching across the dry pasture
In the distance a dog barks
At the sound of a door closing
And at once I am older